New research shows social media is the No.1 choice for card & gift retailers

New research shows social media is the No.1 choice for card & gift retailers
Follow the hashtag #journorequest on Twitter and you’ll get a constant stream of journalists looking to collaborate, which could secure more promotion for your shop.

In a recent study of over 300 retailers Card & Gift Network’s Charlotte Biggs, discovered social media was the most popular online marketing activity for retailers in the greetings card and giftware industry.

Here Charlotte shares her key findings with Inside Retail.

Competitor research is vital to any industry and none more so than retail. Rivalry is intense and you need to stay at the front of the pack.

In researching how greetings card and gift retailers were promoting themselves online I wanted to see what opportunities the online world could offer for savvy shop owners keen to give their marketing a boost.

Social Media Super Stars

Analysing data from 343 retailers it was immediately clear that social media marketing was the most popular channel of promotion.

A massive 88% of businesses surveyed were using social media channels to market their greetings card and giftware products.

For the majority, 75%, social media marketing efforts were concentrated between 1 and 4 channels.

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Of these Facebook was the most popular with 86% having a Facebook page to promote their business online.

The popularity of social media is a great sign, it shows card & gift retailers are forward thinking but  it also means competition is fierce.

Tip

To stand out from the crowd retailers have to become the best of the best. This means offering more value, increasing the quality of every post and even embracing more technology. Video is becoming more important in social media marketing. Facebook and Instagram have both made video integral to their platforms. Retailers need to consider how they can use video to market their shops and reach more customers.

Blog to Reach New Customers

While social media was widely embraced the research showed this wasn’t the case with other forms of online marketing.

Just 47% of the 343 companies analysed had a blog to showcase their brand.

With millions of blog posts created every day it’s easy to assume that the blogging world is crowded, but with over half of the shops surveyed missing a blog, that might not be the case in the retail industry.

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Build Your Own Email List

As well as blogging, traditional email marketing was also overlooked by many. 164 retailers (48%) surveyed had email sign up forms on their website.

Despite its age, email is still one of the most popular marketing methods for professional marketers and for retailers it’s a low cost way to reach potential customers over and over.

Tip

An email list allows you to turn unknown website visitors into a customer. Think of them as people looking in your shop window, they’re showing an interest in what you do.

Consider a Little Budget for Paid Ads

The participation figures fell further when I looked at ‘Pay Per Click’ (PPC) advertising. Just 52 retailers (15%) had used paid advertising to promote their business in the last year.

Compared to the free option of social media marketing it’s not surprising that retailers avoid the more costly PPC advertising, but it also means they could be missing out on people ready to buy their products.

Tip

Pay-Per-Click advertising is aimed at the people already searching for your products, the people more likely to buy what you have to offer. Read up on how it works and test it out with a small budget. It might be the perfect way to send buyers to product pages. When you get a formula that works you can increase your budget accordingly.

Get Chatting to Journalists

Similarly PR (public relations) can also seem to be a costly endeavour, especially if you look into hiring a PR agency. This however isn’t the only option for retailers that want to add PR to their marketing mix.

Tip

PR marketing doesn’t always demand an expensive agency fee. Both old-fashioned email and social media allow retailers to connect with journalists. Look at the stories in your favourite newspapers and magazines to see how your could pitch something similar for your shop. Follow the hashtag #journorequest on Twitter and you’ll get a constant stream of journalists looking to collaborate, which could secure more promotion for your shop.

Start Learning About SEO

The final marketing method I researched was SEO or Search Engine Optimisation. While many of the shops surveyed had well structured websites, the more technical aspects of optimising a website for search engines like Google or Bing appeared to be missing.

Only 5% of the retailers reviewed had a highly rated score for their website.

The remaining 95% of retailers reviewed have great potential to use SEO to improve how search engines see and rate their website; improvements which could see them get more visitors and more customers.

Tip

There are numerous free articles and tools online that can help retailers utilise SEO as a marketing method, it just takes a little time and knowledge. Even if you do want to outsource SEO to an agency it’s worth knowing the basics, so you can understand if what they’re offering has value. Read up on SEO basics and it will help you boost your website and all your marketing efforts.

What Does All this Mean for Card & Gift Retailers?

At first glance it might seem like retailers aren’t wild about online marketing. Strong figures for social media drop off dramatically when you look at other forms of promotion, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

These figures show us that there’s a lot of potential in the world of online marketing. All forms of marketing require testing, and this research shows that most card & gift retailers still have lots of things they can try out.

Even the addition of one extra marketing channel could help grow your business.

You can see the full report on how card & gift retailers promote online: https://www.cardandgiftnetwork.com/retailers-promote-online

There are also introductions to each of the marketing areas reviewed, which can be accessed for free in the Card & Gift Network School -https://www.cardandgiftnetwork.com/school

About Charlotte/Card & Gift Network

Launched in 2009, Card & Gift Network is an online platform supporting and showcasing the greetings card and giftware industry. Comprising blog, directory and online school, the website unites designers, makers, retailers and suppliers from across the industry to explore a world of cards and gifts.

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